5.8/10
10
2 user

Combination Skin (1996)

In a grim reptile house in the north of England, a mother and her son are failing to have a conversation. A dark comedy in model animation.

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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In a grim reptile house in the north of England, a mother and her son are failing to have a conversation. A dark comedy in model animation.

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October 1996 (USA)  »

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Mischhaut  »

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Good animation with fine delivery of a good script
29 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

A woman, separated from her family, takes her young son to the reptile house at the zoo. As they look at the various creatures in the house, the mother starts to enquire after her son's father and, despite his obvious boredom, starts to tell stories about their time together.

From the very start of this film I was put in mind of the brilliant Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, both in regards the delivery and the script. The mother rambles away and the son just listens impassively, mostly the dialogue is small stuff that cannot stick to the point. However this is where the detail comes from and we are told a lot about her character and her deeper emotions by the way she talks and what little observations she remembers from the stories she tells. Of course it doesn't compare to Bennett's great writing, but it is still very interesting and quite telling. The delivery helps a great deal; Horrocks gets it just right – playing to the banal side of her character while letting more come out, meanwhile Gallagher does well to come across as bored and a little ground down by the stuff between his parents.

As Theo has already pointed out, the animation is very good and features some very well done figures that match the grey and lowkey characters that inhabit them. As already said (again by my reviewing shadow!), I would have liked a bit more of a roving camera during the dialogue delivery. Rather than focusing on the characters in the film, we could have had more amusing little moments such as the lizard on the window and the tortoise on its back – these would have provided a nice contrast with the script and would have allowed more interesting (but just as impressive) animation.

Overall a really strong short film that is interesting on the surface but has more value under it. The animation is good but the script is clever and interesting, even if it doesn't get up to the level of Alan Bennett that it clearly aspires to.


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